Chelsea began their season with high expectations and most would say they lived up to it. Lasts season’s finish of 10th place was a let-down for a club of their stature but Antonio Conte’s rejuvenated squad had a point to prove and they managed to do so by finishing top of the table and being crowned 2016/17 Premier League Champions.
Chelsea got their season off to a slow start with two losses and one draw in the opening six games but since then it was all uphill. They went on a 13-match winning streak which was brought to an end at the hands of Spurs early this calendar year but there was no stopping the Blues as they managed to keep hold of their position and eventually lift the title.
Chelsea managed 30 wins in 38 games in the entire season beating their previous best achieved under Jose Mourinho in 2004/2005 of 29 wins. They scored 85 goals and conceded just 33 times, maintaining 16 clean sheets in total which saw Thibaut Courtois win the coveted golden glove award. They were impressive attacking as well as defensive but the highlight of the season goes to the formation adapted by Antonio Conte: The 3-4-3.
Diego Costa was the top scorer for the Blues with 20 and Cesc Fabregas topped assists with 10, despite making 29 appearances he came off the bench 55% of the time and still managed the stat, making him the first player to record 10 assists or more in six seasons.
Antonio Conte’s team was the perfect combination which eventually helped the Blues achieve Premier League glory. Antonio Conte in his early days at Chelsea shuffled around with his squad to get the right the combination but since he shifted to the 3-4-3 he stuck to his 11 and they allowed the football to do the talking.
The squad involved Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Kante, Matic; Moses, Alonso, Pedro/Willian, Costa, Hazard
Due to limited fixtures and no European football, the lack of rotation helped Conte achieve results and all players stepped up to their task providing the much-needed result the team was looking for.
John Terry was unfortunate to miss out from the core group but when the players are doing the job, much rotation isn’t necessary. Cesc Fabregas was the super sub for the team providing crucial assists and doing it at the right time. One player who picked up form too late was Michy Batshuayi, he was given a few chances in other competitions but didn’t provide much spark, however towards the end of the season he managed 3 goals in 3 games, taking his season tally to 5 in 239 played minutes.
With the core group, they did everything right. The defence was solid preventing oppositions to get past them. Diego Costa was fantastic up front taking his season tally to 20 goals. Cesar Azpilicueta completed 2,459 passes, the highest by any player this season, what makes the stat stand out is that he managed an 87% pass accuracy. N’Golo Kante was the best player in the squad though – brilliant at stopping oppositions and great getting the ball forward. Chelsea have finally found their Makelele replacement.
Well, too many to pick from a team that showed success throughout the season, since we couldn’t decide we chose two: Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante
Both players were formidable. Eden Hazard was great going forward and this season showed Chelsea his true potential, a class of him which was missing the previous season which eventually went on to be disastrous. Hazard made 36 appearances for Chelsea scoring 16 goals; it’s not the goals that made Hazard our pick but his ability on the ball and his ability to stand up during pressure situations. His skills on the ball and his ability to glide past opponents made him Chelsea’s stand-out player going forward.
N’Golo Kante was Chelsea’s bargain purchase at £30 million. Chelsea bought Kante from Premier League champions Leicester only for him to carry his charm to Chelsea and help them win the league making it back to back league titles for the Frenchman. He had an 89% pass accuracy for the season. He provided Chelsea the much-needed midfield option making it hard for the opponents whereas easing the pressure off the team by taking the task on his shoulder.
Chelsea’s entire team was their strength. Their 3 fold defence was solid and their attacking talent priceless. Every player stepped up to the occasion, something which helped the Blues be crowned as champions.
Antonio Conte was the man behind the success. After a disastrous season in 2015/2016, he brought this team together and helped them reach the summit once again.
Well, the only weakness we could potentially spot out was the inability of the squad to step up in the big games. Chelsea did win most of their games but of their 5 losses, 4 were encountered against top six teams: Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT SEASON
Chelsea face the daunting task of facing some of Europe’s best clubs in the UEFA Champions League football next season along with other domestic competitions. Retaining the league will be the main objective, but with squad rotation and fatigue this could affect the team.
It is important to see the names Chelsea will retain as well as bring in for the upcoming season. Chelsea could definitely make do with 2-3 more players in the squad to help rotate and retain the freshness of most of its players. However, with Conte’s energy and confidence, Chelsea will look to hold onto the silverware and be crowned champions once again.
Expected Finishing Position= 1st